Federer follows heart in bid for Olympic gold

"At the end of the day my heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again," said Roger Federer.
"At the end of the day my heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again," said Roger Federer.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Roger Federer has confirmed his participation in next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo and said on Monday that he had listened to his heart before making the decision.

The 38-year-old competed in the first of four Olympic Games at Sydney in 2000 and won the doubles gold partnering Stan Wawrinka in 2008. He had also won a silver in singles in 2012. He missed the 2016 edition owing to a knee injury.

"At the end of the day my heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again," the Swiss said during a promotional event for his sponsor Uniqlo in Tokyo.

Federer, who has won all four of the Grand Slam tournaments, as well as the ATP Tour Finals six times, will attempt to win a singles gold medal at the July 24-Aug 9 Games. It is the only major prize that he has yet to win.

"I've been debating with my team for a few weeks now, months actually, what I should do in the summer after Wimbledon and before the US Open (in 2020)," added the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who will turn 39 during the Games.

"I carried the flag twice for Switzerland in Athens and Beijing, I've got a gold and a silver, and I would love to play again so I'm very excited."

He will require an exemption to compete in Tokyo as he has yet to play in the Davis Cup for Switzerland in the current Olympic cycle that began after Rio 2016.

To fulfil International Tennis Federation (ITF) requirements, a player must be part of a Davis Cup or Fed Cup team and present at the tie on at least three occasions in the Olympic cycle, provided one of those ties is in 2019 or 2020.

He will have little reason to worry, however, as one of the special conditions that could gain him entry is his historical participation in the Games and the Davis Cup, as stated in the ITF's regulations.

Novak Djokovic, and Federer's eternal rival Rafael Nadal, have both already said they will compete in Tokyo, the trio setting the scene for a competitive tournament.

Nobody will be writing the ageing triumvirate off.

The 32-year-old Djokovic is world No. 1 and the player poised to take top spot off him in the coming weeks is Nadal, 33.

Federer is third in the world rankings, while Nadal and Djokovic won all four Slams between them this year.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'Federer follows heart in bid for Olympic gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe